Our venues

Blackler's Winter Wonderland Grotto

old badges with a Christmas elf and Cinderella's glass slipper

Blackler's Winter Wonderland Grotto badges. Accession numbers MMM.2004.23.2-3

The well known Liverpool department store Blackler's was situated on the corner of Elliot Street and Great Charlotte Street and was founded in the early twentieth century, closing in 1988. During the Second World War the store was very badly damaged by fire in the May Blitz of 1941 and relocated to a variety of temporary sites, mainly in and around Bold Street. In 1953 the first part of the newly built store opened. The façade of the building still remains and is occupied by a number of commercial businesses, including a chain pub named Richard John Blacker after one of the store's founders.

Blackler's was particularly famous for its Winter Wonderland Grotto, which proved incredibly popular every year. More than 10,000 visitors a week went to see the magical scenes and tell Santa Claus what they'd like for Christmas.

These badges, from the social history collection | at the Museum of Liverpool, are not currently on display but you can see another Blackler's favourite, Blackie the rocking horse | , in The People's Republic gallery. A 4.5 metre high Santa | that was displayed on the façade of Blackler's in the 1950s also went on display for a few weeks over Christmas 2013.

Below are a selection of Blacklers images from the Stewart Bale collection | in the Maritime Archives and Library |  - select each one to see it full size. There are more festive photographs from the collection in the Stewart Bale Christmas online exhibition | .

Blackler's toy fair at their Fleet Street warehouse, 1949. This photograph shows the toy department and Christmas grotto. The centrepiece of the display is a magnificent horse drawn carriage (centre left) which, according to the caption, was for Cinderella's journey to the palace. At the far end (centre) is an imposing throne, above which the name of Father Christmas is clearly signposted, to guide the huge numbers of children who went to meet him to confide precious hopes for their Christmas present list. Nearby is a counter marked 'Get your Christmas parcel here', where children presumably could collect their gifts from Father Christmas.  The various product sections are all clearly labelled and pre-decimalisation price tags can be seen. Archive reference 491043-3 Blackler's Liverpool, toy fair and grotto display of Cinderella's carriage at their Fleet Street warehouse, 1949.  A close-up view of the carriage seen in the previous photograph of the toy fair, this is the centrepiece of Blackler's fairy tale scene. The large model complete with prancing horses and spectacular coach must have been an enchanting scene for any child but particularly for a post-war audience. Archive reference 491043-1 Model Father Christmas in Blackler's department store, Liverpool, 1958. This photograph shows the interior of the newly rebuilt Blackler's department store be-decked with Christmas decorations, including the enormous model of Father Christmas, standing astride a platform above the first level of stairs, which advertises the Christmas grotto. Stars dangle from the ceiling and small Christmas trees punctuate the perimeters of the upper floors. The store had been badly damaged during the Second World War and had to operate out of temporary sites until it was rebuilt, with the first part of the rebuild opening in 1953. Archive reference 581174-1